NAIROBI– When Gilbert Wandera, a businessman in Kenya, set out from the capital Nairobi to his rural home in Busia on Sunday morning, he had four passengers in his vehicle heading to the same destination.
Wandera, who was traveling to vote in his rural home in Tuesday elections, has done the journey before several times, but alone or with his family.
But this time around, he found four other people also traveling to vote, who paid him 1,200 shillings (about 10.1 U.S. dollars) each for the journey, enabling him to cut his costs.
Wandera is among Kenyans who have turned to carpooling to reach their rural homes to cast their ballots on Tuesday as public service vehicles become scarce due to rise in demand.
“If I hadn’t travelled with them, perhaps they would not have reached their home to vote. I believe I have played my part in ensuring they vote,” he told Xinhua on the phone on Monday.
Thousands of Kenyans living in urban areas and cities like Nairobi, Mombasa, Nakuru and Kisumu are traveling across the east African nation to their rural homes to cast their ballots, leading to transport challenges as fares rise.
Most Kenyans prefer traveling to rural homes to vote to avoid insecurity challenges that come with the polls, especially in urban areas.
Besides that, as compared to urban areas, in rural areas there are few voters and thus travel to avoid long voting queues.
To ensure that no vote “goes to waste” because people can’t reach their destinations, those with private cars have stepped in, with carpooling becoming popular.
There have been appeals on social media in the last three days for private car owners to offer transport services to the rural areas to ensure people travel to vote.
Some who are not traveling have willingly offered their vehicles to ferry people to different parts of the country to vote.
“The number of people is overwhelming but we have managed to get 15 to travel to western Kenya on Monday to vote.
“We are working to ferry more,” said Muhammad Onyango, a social media influencer in Nairobi.
At Easy Coach Bus Company in Nairobi central business district, which plies the western Kenya routes, an attendant said all their buses were full until after elections.
A similar situation befell those travelling to coastal Kenya, where most buses were fully booked ahead of the Tuesday elections.
Buses in the capital are charging as high as 17 dollars to travelers heading to western Kenya.
As a tradition, thousands of Kenyans prefer voting in their rural homes thus during elections, there is always an exodus of people from urban to rural areas.
This practice has been attributed to people feeling they belong more in their rural areas than urban areas where they live.
Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) chairman Wafula has assured Kenyans that the institution is ready to deliver a free, fair and credible election on Tuesday.
Some 22.1 million Kenyans are expected to vote on Tuesday in the general election, according to IEBC. – Xinhua